Toby and Chatbot Marketing

Toby is a commercial chatbot for YOMA (Your Online Marketing Agency) which both promotes the company and resells the idea of itself as an effective method of online marketing.

Toby’s interface is built on Oddcast’s ubiquitous SitePal technology, the same system used by Pandorabots. However the interesting thing about Toby is not the interface but the authoring. Toby was written by a company called Advanced Chatbot Solutions using their interesting system of modular chatbot features. ACS was in turn incubated by the Ventures division British marketing, strategy and technology company Daden Limited. Their partner YOMA implies that chatbots, rather than being glitz and fluff, might somehow become part of a web accessibility strategy:
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“Chatbots are web based programmes that can converse in text or speech with your customers…. Most importantly Daden Limited are expert consultants and can help you restructure your site to comply to the Disability Act on websites and help you create a marketing solution that will cater for all.”

I’m not sure if Daden’s interests in chatbots and in site design for the Disability Act are linked, but it is interesting to imagine a website whose accessibility for vision-impared users was based on the rhetoric of conversation rather than navigation. Could AIML actually improve accessibility? Right now it seems difficult to imagine, but in some cases input-response is a great model for navigation - say for example the Google homepage, or perhaps to use a more chatbot-ish example the command line for either Ask Jeeves or YubNub.

Of course, SitePal’s heavy emphasis on visable features doesn’t seem to be the best way to do that, but the general approach could work - perhaps using CSS to replace a website with a very simple AIML interface.


Related: Adi Sideman of Oddcast comments on SitePal avatars in relation to the issue of the uncanny valley.

via Sourcewire

2 Responses to “Toby and Chatbot Marketing”

  1. 1 steven streight aka vaspers the grate

    I tested Toby and found him pathetically deficient, a usability liability and not an interface asset.

    Vaspers: “Are you gay?”
    Toby: “What do you think?”
    Vaspers (thinking to himself, “this always means ‘yes’”.)

    See my post “Chatbot Toby disappoints” for the entire test. This is not a post promotion post, but a “Thanks” for depositing a comment on my blog, and explaining the false positive in Technorati searches.

    That enriched the content of my flagship blog, and I appreciate it.

    Will monitor this blog manually and expect to learn a great deal in an area of extreme interest, but I have not very good traction in.

  1. 1 Jabberwacky wins Loebner prize with chatbots George and Joan at WRT: Writer Response Theory

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